I saw this description of Abundance Progressivism with great relief. I was delighted for a name for my position. It also explained to me why I’ve been irritated with the “tear out your lawn” school of water conservation in this drought.
Over the past few years, I have increasingly come to the position that we must create the improved next climate world before we eliminate the things we can no longer sustain. This is based on a few things:
- There is almost no institutional trust in government. We will simply have to deliver before that trust exists. So we do the good things first, such as a universal basic income and a robust public transportation and bike networks.
- The public cannot envision a good future, much less a good low-carbon future. So we will have to deliver that first and let the vision grow from there. Free e-bikes for all. Ubiquitous and beautiful superblocks.
- We are already overburdened and exhausted. We cannot ask the public to tolerate a misery gap between ending high-carbon convenience and creating low-carbon convenience. Their answer will be what mine is: fuck right off.
- The point of governance is to minimize misery and have nice things. It is good to deliver on nice things! There is a strain of hairshirt left environmentalism that enjoys frugality and sustainability purity. That’s fine, if carrying buckets of warm-up water out to your veggies is something you enjoy. I want you to have your hobby! But I’d rather the entire enterprise were eliminated by building code changes so there isn’t warm-up water so that people can spend that time relaxing and hanging out. Or more robust water recycling, to capture warm-up water to fill urban rivers.
But, you may ask, where will we get the money to provide abundance to all? There are sophisticated answers like ‘many of these things are actually cost-beneficial when you account for everything’, but my short term answer is “from the hoards of billionaires and from military and cop budgets.” I dream of the day when our government suddenly decides those are pure low-entropy stocks and plunders them like every other low-entropy natural resource.
In the scheme of things, water conservation isn’t even a major player in creating a new low-carbon life that feels abundant and lovely. But the dynamics are all the same. There are literal billionaires sitting on great volumes of hoarded water while the majority of Californians are being denied abundance and asked for scarcity-driven effort. I want the entire governance mindset to flip to creating low-carbon societal abundance, which could well mean cool, green, lovely urban landscapes in California.
[I will add that that I don’t love the implied competition between movement and abundance progressive wings in the linked article. I think they are both great I hope they partner to seize the means of production and lead us into a glorious low-carbon future.]